Alan Plater Radio Credits

the smokeless zone 1961
counting the legs 1961
the mating season 1962
the rainbow machine 1962
the seventh day of arthur 1963
excursion 1965
ted's cathedral (from stage play)1965
the northern drift (as editor)1965/8 BBC north
the what on the landing?*1967
fred (from tv play) 1970
close the coalhouse door* (from the stage play) 1972
the slow stain (for brighton festival)1973
5 days in '55 (the gilberdyke diaries) 1976
Curriculee Curricula 1978 (jt. stereo on BBC2 TV and Radio 4)
and a little love besides* 1979
tunes 1979
swallows on the water (from stage play) 1981
the journal of Vasilije Bogdanovic* 1982 WService
tolpuddle* 1982
skyhooks* (from stage play) 1983
who's jimmy dickenson?* (from stage play : well good night then) 1985
the beiderbeck affair, 10 x 14m 26Jan-6Feb 1987
humour in jazz (4 progs as writer and presenter) 1988
alan plater jazz programme (humphrey lyttelton stand in) 1991
only a matter of time *1999
time added on for injuries* 2001
the devil's music (three linked plays)* 2001
the gallery 2009

3 plays from the north, play 1:see the pretty lights*,date nk, 30m.

*exist in collections within VRPCC


The What on the Landing....1967
A radio classic, rather like Giles Cooper's "Under the Loofah Tree". With Bernard Cribbins as Mr. Chipchase.

See the pretty lights....c1970(?)
Date not known at time of writing but appears to be late 60s /early 70s. Two lonely young people meet, on holiday, outside a discotheque somewhere on the coast. The companion plays are COME TO THE FAIR, by Norman Smithson, and THE PETITION, by Len Rush. All of these plays are in VRPCC collections.

Close the coalhouse door....1972
A musical play based on coal mining........

By Alan Plater, 12 Mar 73, with Vivien Merchant as Clare. When Clare's children talk about a run-over cat on the car ride to school, it opens up parts of her mind that had been undisturbed since she read Shelley's line - 'The contagion of the world's slow stain ' . . .

With the voices of Peter Allcorn, Gareth Armstrong, John Bull, David Collings, Pamela Grace, Rolf Lefebvre, Renu Setna, Terry Scully, Nigel Rathbone, Susan Drouet, Brian Hudson. Music composed and played by Larry Adler. Producer - Keith Slade. (This play was first commissioned by BBC Radio Brighton for the Brighton Festival 1973)

Rare joint stereo broadcast on BBC2 (TV) and Radio 4. BBC2 didn't get Nicam stereo until 1986. With Magnus Magnusson. ....thanks S.S.....-ND

1981, R4. This is the story of a Yugoslavian footballer who is bought by a struggling English football team. Can he help restore their fortunes? Amusing comedy by Alan Plater. With S. Ellis, Graham Roberts, Henry Livings, Nicholas Owen. SM Geoffrey Wilkinson. WS, producer Dickon Reed.

Skyhooks 90m ....1983
Comedy set in an architect's office...a middle aged architect has his world disturbed when there is an attempted takeover by a thrusting young newcomer...but as compensation, there's the young dolly-bird on Work Experience ... will he be the one to win the sweepstake if he's the first to chat her up? (....in ND's Top 10 radio plays)

The Beiderbeck Affair....1987
-in 10 x 14m eps. 26thJan-6thFeb87. Woman's Hour Serial Reading, read by James Bolam.

24 Mar 96: The Classic Serial: All Things Betray Thee
By Gwyn Thomas, dramatised in three episodes by Alan Plater. 1: Moonlea. 1835. A travelling harpist arrives in the new iron town of Moonlea in search of his friend. Leigh: Ian Hughes, John Simon: Patrick Brennan, Helen: Melanie Walters, Lemuel: Ray Llewellyn, Katherine: Manon Edwards, Penbury: Bill Stewart, Jefferies: Laurence Allan, with Rhodri Hugh, Helen Gwyn, Hubert Rees, Kieron Self, Anwen Williams and Ric Jerrom. Music by Ruth Wall, played by the composer (harp) and Alison Frances (violin). Producer Alison Hindell.

Only a Matter of Time by Alan Plater (R4, 4 February 99) was a superb 45-minute play about the coming of the railway to rural Wales in the middle of the last century. Alan David was the Welsh farmer and James Bolam the representative of Mr. Brunel's railway Company. The verbal fencing between these two was radio writing at its best. (VRPCC newsletter, Apr99)

It's the 1830s and Wales is on the brink of the Industrial Revolution. Time-telling is standardised but not everyone is convinced of the benefits created by this stride in human progress. Written by Alan Plater and starring James Bolam and Alan David, it was directed by Alison Hindell (now head of BBC Radio Drama) and was first transmitted in February 1999. Repeated BBC7, Jan 08.

John Arden's WOE, ALAS, THE FATAL CASH BOX (23 July, 2100 hrs. R4) was his first radio play for some time. It was another of those plays which only work on radio, a little like Alan Plater's "The What on the Landing," (1967) or Giles Cooper's "Under the Loofah Tree". Julius Applewick, recovering in hospital from a heart attack, has a stream of visitors, some real, some imaginary. With some of them, he revisits his childhood. Sparkling dialogue made this compulsive listening. Bernard Hepton, with his conspiratorial half-whisper, was well cast as Applewick. (VRPCC newsletter, Dec 99)

Other things have stuck in the memory: 2000 Tales, where motorists stranded in appalling weather at a motorway service station tell each other stories whilst waiting to be rescued; The Centurions, where a collection of fictional centenarians tell their life stories, and two excellent plays by Alan Plater: Only a matter of time (R4 1 Nov 00 1415) and Time added on for injuries (R4 2 Nov 00 1415), where James Bolam and Alan David have a verbal punch-up in two settings a century apart in rural Wales; Bolam is the industrialist who wants to rip up the countryside and build railways, and David is the Welshman who objects.(VRPCC newsletter, Dec00)

Three plays by Alan Plater were broadcast on successive Wednesdays: The Devil's Music (R4, 1415, beginning 8 Aug 01), inspired by the Women's Jazz Archive. A choir of ex-slaves sings the song "Roll, Jordan, Roll" in a Welsh village in the 1880s; a generation later the tune is used in a comic song; in the third play it appears in another setting. Plater's work is very well crafted and holds the attention throughout. Alison Hindell directed the trilogy. (Nigel Deacon, VRPCC newsletter Dec 01)

This drama based around music was written by Alan Plater and starred Holby City’s Rakie Ayola, Margaret John, Helen Griffin and Don Warrington.  Rehearsing for the Brecon Jazz Festival, Megan keeps playing a certain melody, but where does it come from? Her musical detective trail leads to the 1880s and to a choir of emancipated slaves. Repeated BBC7, Jan 08. (BBC7 blurb, slightly edited)

My notes say this was broadcast in 2009, but RT says 25 Aug 2010; perhaps it was a repeat. Alan Plater's last play. A new Tyneside art gallery opens. Not everything goes smoothly. With Joe Caffrey, Janice Acqua; producer Alison Hindell.

29 Sept: Saturday Drama. By Alan Plater. A musical about coal mining.... with songs by Alex Glasgow. Based on the stories of Sid Chaplin (1), with additional material by Lee Hall. Northern Stage and Live Theatre's production of the celebrated sixties political docudrama. An exhilaratingly furious and funny ride through the strikes, victories and frustrations of British mining history. It also captures the political anger of the time. Sid Chaplin's stories outline all the major strikes, victories and disappointments in British mining history from the formation of the first unions in 1830s all the way through to the 1960s. Alan Plater uses the dramatic device of a Geordie family celebration as a framework to tell this history whilst their own story unfolds in 1968. One son, Frank, has left behind the mines to study at university, while his brother John is a dissatisfied pitman. Frank brings home his liberated girlfriend free-spirited student Ruth who threatens to tear them apart in the central love story. Musical arrangements and additional music by Sam Kenyon. Directed for the stage by Samuel West. Produced by Gary Brown.

Compiled by ND, Diversity website.

(1)Note that Sid Chaplin is the father of Michael Chaplin, radio playwright, who is also featured on this website.

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